More UK drivers than ever expect their next car to be electric, according to research published this month. However, the RAC’s survey of more than 3,000 motorists also suggests the proportion of drivers expecting to be in an electric vehicle in the next five years has fallen in the past 12 months.

According to the study, fewer drivers than ever are expecting to run their next car on so-called ‘conventional’ fuels, with just 41 percent of respondents saying their next car would run on petrol alone. That’s down from 45 percent in 2021 and 59 percent in 2017. Similarly, the proportion of drivers expecting their next car to run on diesel has fallen from 16 percent in 2021 to 13 percent in 2022.

The number of people expecting to go electric when they next change cars has risen to 14 percent, however, up from three percent in 2018. Demand for plug-in hybrids has increased, too, doubling from five percent in 2017 to 10 percent in 2022. But the number of drivers expecting their next car to be a conventional hybrid has remained stable at around 20 percent since 2019.

2022 Hyundai Kona Electric

Although there’s a clear expectation from drivers that their next vehicle will be electric, the proportion of drivers who do not know when they will acquire their first electric car has risen from 36 percent in 2021 to 42 percent in 2022. And the proportion who think they will be driving an electric car in five to 10 years has declined from 25 percent in 2021 to 21 percent this year.

The RAC also found that just over half (56 percent) of all drivers expect to change their vehicle in the next five years, down from 73 percent in 2019. Of those who plan to change, almost half (47 percent) have delayed a change because of second-hand car prices while 38 percent are driving less due to the pandemic. Among those who plan to stay as they are for the next five years, 77 percent say that’s because they’re happy with their current car. But eight percent blame high prices and the same proportion said their income had reduced as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

2022 MG MG5 Electric exterior charging port

“It’s great to see an increasing proportion of drivers saying they will go electric next time they change their vehicles, with more than twice as many saying their next vehicles will be zero-emission than before the pandemic,” said RAC electric vehicle spokesperson Simon Williams.

“But at the same time, it’s also very worrying that there are currently so many factors hindering take-up. A combination of the effects of Covid, ongoing availability issues in the new car market due to a global microchip shortage and the squeeze on household finances brought about by the cost-of-living crisis mean people keen to get into an EV are likely to put off doing so.

“It’s very important to realise, however, that for those who can afford to make the switch, it’s still cheaper to drive electric. While the rising cost of domestic electricity means the savings aren’t as great as they were, those who can charge at home are able to save 10p a mile compared to those driving a 40-mpg petrol car.

“We must not let the growing desire to go electric be derailed by rising electricity costs, higher interest rates and vehicle availability issues. With the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars just over seven years away, it’s vital that as many people as possible are able to switch to electric, and this will only happen if EVs become more affordable.”